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The World Is Too Much With Us

September 22, 2016 - Jen Zbozny
Have you heard that Uber is testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, as of this September? It's not science fiction. It's real and it's happening not far from here. I heard an interview with Pittsburgh's mayor, Bill Peduto, about it. Peduto volunteered and was chosen to be a test passenger. Brave. He said the weirdest thing was watching the steering wheel move by itself.

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My only experience like that was once I was driving behind a car that I'd though was driving itself. It was actually being driven by the shortest, oldest woman drive I've ever seen. That was kind of a relief.

I think about that short, old woman, and I think about self-driving cars, and naturally I think of Eve and then by extension, all the children. Will human operated cars be tour children what old rotary phones are to them already? Clunky, curious, out-dated things? Will self-driving cars mean I can send the car to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy drive through while I'm at work? Will self-driving cars shuttle all the kids to soccer without us when we have a conflict?

I'm not sure how I feel about that. We recently took a lovely little weekend getaway and part of it that was especially enjoyable for me was the ebb and flow of conversation between us as I drove. Eve would watch out the window and notice things. We'd talk abut, then I'd focus on the road and she would enjoy staring out the window. Forgive me, dear readers, I don't have viewing screens in my car. Eve excels at reading, drawing, singing, telling stories that we invent together, and most amazingly reading books while we drive. Sadly, she stinks at sleeping while we drive, but she maintains a pretty even disposition, so I guess I can't complain.

With self-driving cars will our conversation and observation capsule disappear? It's odd to say this but I've come to enjoy driving on longer trips exactly because I really can't be doing more than driving and listening. I can't be on three devices and trying to cook and get laundry done. I drive, watch, listen. Reflect.

If the world moves to self-driving cars will the car be another place where families will tune eachother out by staring at devices instead of each other? Or will they be a place where because I'm not driving, we can play parcheesi and pInt our toenails together?

I'm hoping for the latter and I'll do my best to sort out boundaries and limits when and if it comes to that. In the meantime I'm going to try to do a few things:

A) work on my posture and some strength training exercises. I don't want to be that invisible old lady nobody could see whilst she was driving.

B) work on ways to help Eve prepare for a future that may be vastly different from the way things are now but try togiveher critical skills, "just in case." (Side note, I can't tell you how valuable it is to me that I still have the habit of memorizing and actually punching in people's phone numbers. Makes a difference even if if it makes me seem out of touch!)

C) start work on my million dollar idea: workouts for in the car!!

What about you? What are you noticing in the world these days?

Image Credit: Google Self-Driving Car by Smoothgroover 22 on licensed under cc by 2.0


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